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Police dispatch about mother baffles son

News editor

Florence resident Greg Graham doesn’t know what to make of a sheriff dispatcher’s request for an officer to check on his mother Saturday at an address where she hasn’t lived for almost nine months.

At 5:31 p.m., a dispatcher radioed for an officer to perform a welfare check at a residence on Grandview St. in Florence.

“It’s a 90-year-old female who is almost blind,” the dispatcher said. “They have been unable to get hold of her. They said her phone has been busy for two days. She also has a son that’s been looking after her, but they can’t get hold of him either.”

A subsequent transmission identified the woman as Lenora Graham, and Greg Graham as her son.

Listening to recordings of the transmissions about 20 minutes after they occurred, a high school classmate called Graham’s cell phone number.

Graham answered immediately, and was puzzled.

The address used by the dispatcher was incorrect, Graham said. He explained that years ago, Grandview addresses were renumbered. The address given to the officer was the old address, which since renumbering would be for a block north of his mother’s house.

His mother, who is 94, not 90, moved out to stay with him about nine months ago, he said. Two-and-a-half months ago she moved to Marion Assisted Living. His mother’s home phone was disconnected, but her cell phone has been working fine, he said. He wasn’t aware anyone had tried to contact either of them over the past two days.

“She’s had a cell phone for 10 years,” Graham said. “I haven’t changed my number for more than five years. This must be somebody who doesn’t contact mom very often.”

Concerned and curious, Graham hung up and made two phone calls.

“I called my mom and got her right away,” Graham said. “Maybe they called her home phone and didn’t know she had a cell phone.”

A call placed to his mother’s listed number got a message that the number was no longer in service, not a busy signal as mentioned in the transmission.

Graham called the dispatcher to report that he and his mother were fine, and that she did not live in Florence anymore.

“The dispatcher sounded like he wasn’t sure what was going on with that either,” Graham said.

Curious about who had made the call for a welfare check, Graham said he was told the call had come from the McPherson County Sheriff’s office.

“Mom knows no one, not one single person, who lives in McPherson County,” Graham said.

Graham said Marion County did not know who had called the McPherson sheriff’s office.

The unknown caller apparently knew of his mother’s vision problems, and that he was looking after her, but apparently didn’t have long-standing cell phone numbers for either of them. They had a house address that has been invalid for years, did not know his mother had moved twice in the past nine months, and made the request through McPherson County rather than calling Marion County.

Graham wondered whether someone outside Marion County was using the welfare check as a means of finding out whether the house was occupied. He said he already removed all valuables from the house.

Grahan said a Marion County dispatcher told him someone would contact the McPherson County sheriff’s office to try to find out who placed the call.

Last modified Dec. 30, 2014

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